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The Ideal Diet That Doesn’t Exist: Brainstorm Health

June 10, 2019, 11:46 PM UTC

Happy Monday, readers. I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

First off, a hearty thanks to all of you have already reached out with recommendations for Fortune‘s latest Change the World list. Please keep them coming!

You may noticed just how much digital space is consumed by nutrition and diet stories. Perhaps that’s not much of a surprise – the health and wellness industries have effective (and aggressive) marketing departments, and the desire to look and feel healthy is a pretty common one.

But a new study (following in the tracks of several before it) suggests that things are, well, a lot more complicated when it comes to diet: There just isn’t a magic bullet for any one person, and effective dieting means very different things depending on your own biological and social circumstances. In effect: There really is no ideal diet.

TIME Magazine’s Jamie Ducharme has a great writeup of a new nutrition study that found that even identical twins have strikingly different biological responses to eating similar foods.

“Our recommendations, medically and public-health wise, have just been assuming that if people follow the standard plan, they’ll lose weight,” study co-investigator Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, told TIME. “Really, that thinking has now been exposed as completely flawed.”

This gets to one of the innate tensions in modern public health management: How do you manage wellness on a wide, population level while also acknowledging that personalized dietary and medical plans are a critical (if more expensive and complicated) part of the puzzle?

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


China's foreign genetic material crackdown. China is reportedly prepping more stringent restrictions on foreign firms that may want to use Chinese genetic material for life sciences research, according to Reuters. “These regulations are formed to effectively protect and rationally use our country’s human genetic resources, protect public health, national security and society’s public interests,” China's State Council said in a statement. It would appear that Carl June wasn't far off when describing the genetic arms race as "Sputnik 2.0." (Reuters)


Roche's good news, bad new day. Swiss drug giant Roche's biotech arm, Genentech, got some pleasant news on Monday as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted its so-called "antibody-drug conjugate" (an emerging form of cancer therapies) to treat certain patients with advanced forms of the blood cancer lymphoma. But biotech is a treacherous industry - especially among massive pharmaceutical federations like Roche which regularly snatch up bolt-on acquisitions. The company's acquisition of gene therapy firm Spark Therapeutics appears destined for delay following U.S. regulator scrutiny.


There have now been more than 1,000 measles cases. The measles outbreak has hit a new, unfortunate landmark as cases surpassed 1,020 in the current outbreak with new infection reports in Virginia and Idaho, according to the CDC. (Reuters)


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Produced by Sy Mukherjee
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